Movie Diary 8/29/2016

The 9th Life of Louis Drax (Alexandre Aja, 2016). A kid-in-a-coma-with-weird-powers picture, but a few other kinds of movie too, none of them very interesting. (full review 9/2)

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (Peter Weir, 2003). It holds up well, and it might be the best film of 2003.

Massacre (Alan Crosland, 1934). Richard Barthelmess stars as an Indian – for years a sell-out in a Wild West show – who is called back to the reservation and discovers many outrages there. Good role for Barthelmess (and a decent one for Ann Dvorak), and the movie is kind of amazing for how blunt it gets about Native Americans getting the shaft from the United States – in one scene Barthelmess explicitly states that the massacre of native people still goes on today. The DVD is on a Pre-Code collection from Warner, and it’s an example of how much political material could sneak into a Hollywood film before the Code was set in cement.

Breathe Southside (This Week’s Links)

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Tika Sumpter, Parker Sawyers: Southside with You

Links to my reviews published this week in the Herald and Seattle Weekly.

Southside with You. “I kept wondering whether this slip of a film would hold up if it weren’t about people whose future significance we knew.”

Don’t Breathe. “Slick and nasty in a way that prevents it from being pure escapist fun.”

The Intervention. “The situation yields a few expected comic twists, and some mild revelations. But the main fun is the performances by the women.”

Morris from America. “Veers from authentic observations about loneliness to crass sex jokes, sometimes in the same scene.”

Equity. “Plays it ice-cold.”

Movie Diary 8/24/2016

Morgan (Luke Scott, 2016). Ridley’s son directs a little number about an artificial being, grown in a lab and now dangerously unpredictable. Not a good movie in the way Ex Machina was a good movie, but pretty effective as a creepfest. Kate Mara finds a groove, and there are some good go-to people like Paul Giamatti, Michelle Yeoh, and Toby Jones. (full review 9/2)

Movie Diary 8/23/2016

Don’t Breathe (Fede Alvarez, 2016). Slick and sadistic. Jumps the rails in a particularly nasty way at one point. You might think it’d be easy to escape from a house owned by a blind man, but what if I told you the blind man was Stephen Lang? Doesn’t sound so easy now, does it? (full review 8/26)

The Sea of Trees (Gus Van Sant, 2015). Critically lambasted at Cannes in 2015, this finally arrives for a regular run. (Maybe; the Seattle opening has been pushed back to an as-yet-undefined date.) The idea is more than a little woo-woo, but – to beat one of my favorite dead rugs – movies are more than ideas. The mise-en-scene bristles, the cast (Matthew McConaughey, Naomi Watts, Ken Watanabe) is homed in, and Van Sant ponders the nature of trees moving in the breeze, as D.W. Griffith famously said movies should. (full review ?/?)

Movie Diary 8/22/2016

Moby Dick (John Huston, 1956). Huston and cinematographer Oswald Morris treated the film so it would look a certain way, and that’s interesting to see, but beyond that this movie has photographic values that seem very unusual and modern for something shot in the 1950s (the leave-taking from New Bedford, especially). An interesting stab at an unfilmable novel. I saw this on morning TV at a tender age and have never been able to forget the ending from that shocked viewing.

The Mighty Quinn (Carl Schenkel, 1989). I am sincerely curious about how this director, whose career seems otherwise pretty undistinguished, came to direct this film. I hadn’t seem it since it came out, and it stands up as a very pleasant hang-out movie, with Denzel Washington and Robert Townsend at opposite ends of a mystery on a Caribbean island. Plus, Sheryl Lee Ralph sings the title song, which has new lyrics from the Dylan original.

Morris from America (Chad Hartigan, 2016). A 13-year old goes to Heidelberg with his soccer-coaching father (Craig Robinson), in a coming-of-age-by-way-of-hip-hop tale. (full review 8/26

Behold Little Men-Hur (This Week’s Movies)

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Jack Huston, Morgan Freeman: Ben-Hur (Paramount Pictures)

Links to my reviews published this week in the Herald and Seattle Weekly, and etc.

Ben-Hur. “A lot of scrunching.”

Little Men. “Good at the details that speak volumes.”

Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World. “10 vignettes, all related in some way to the outer boundaries of the internet’s reach.”

Don’t forget to check out July’s “Framing Pictures” session, during which Seattle’s film critics sort through The Neon Demon and the work of the late directors Abbas Kiarostami and Michael Cimino. You can watch it online here.

Movie Diary 8/18/2016

The Intervention (Clea DuVall, 2016). A Big Chill-type thing with some old friends and family gathering for a weekend in a house in Savannah and a few overdue confrontations. The very good female cast – Cobie Smulders, Melanie Lynskey, Natasha Lyonne, and DuVall – easily outshine the men, whoever they are. (full review 8/26)

Equity (Meera Menon, 2016). An odd duck in lots of ways, about the taking-public of an IPO, which is a much more mysterious process than I ever expected, not that I ever expected anything, having never thought about this. (full review 8/26)

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